Justice Leila Seth, 86, died of a cardiac arrest, said her son Shantum Seth. (File Photo)
New Delhi: Justice Leila Seth, the first woman Chief Justice of a High Court in India, died at the age of 86. Justice Seth, known for her 'punctuality', was credited with many firsts in her career spanning five decades, had many qualities that might just surprise you. Born in Lucknow to an engineer of the railways, in 1930, Justice Seth was a pioneer in almost every step she took. "She died of cardiac seizure last night, at about 10:28 pm," Shantum Seth, the second of her three children, said. She is survived by her children and her husband, Prem Seth. As per her wishes, her body will be sent to scientific research.
The famous judge was also the first woman judge in the Delhi High Court.
Not just that, she was also the first woman to top the London Bar exams back in 1958.
The eminent jurist's entry into a career in law was just by chance. In her autobiography, she reveals, how on a trip to England, she took up law as she thought it was one of the few things one could do without attending classes. Rest...is history.
As a member of the Justice Verma Committee, set up after the brutal December 16 gang-rape in Delhi in 2012, Justice Seth had contributed extensively in the roadmap for overhaul of criminal laws and steps to keep women safe.
Not bogged down by her male colleagues, Justice Seth held her own refusing to do just women's cases. Instead, she chose to compete with them taking up tax matters, constitutional law and criminal cases.
A champion of women-rights, the well-known judge was responsible amendments to Hindu Succession Act giving equal rights to daughters in joint family property.
Her youngest son is celebrated author and activist, Vikram Seth.
The literary bug bit her too. The former Judge herself penned down three books. Starting with On Balance, her autobiography in 2003, she went on to write We, The Children of India in 2010, a book explaining constitution to the country's children. This was followed by Talking of Justice: People's Rights in Modern India, in 2014.
Justice Seth is revered as a strong supporter of the gay rights movement. Her disapproval of Section 377 is known to the world as is her belief that "gay child needs more love."